The recent Jobs & Skills Summit brought to light the urgent need for Australia’s to act quickly to solve our current labour shortages. The Summit resulted in the Albanese Government agreeing to take immediate action for a number of labour initiatives.

One of these initiatives included raising the limit for permanent migration, and working to resolve the current visa backlog. This is a long-term solution that is excellent, and we commend the government for taking action on a topic that is often political hot potato.

Australia can’t afford to apply only long-term solutions to its problems, such as migration.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, as we can learn from markets like the UK that have recovered more quickly after the pandemic.

Two cities, two stories

In a variety of ways, the Australian and UK employment markets are similar.

They are both fueled by SMEs, which total 99.8 percent of all businesses in Australia and 99.9 percent in the UK. Both markets are fueled by SMEs. In Australia, they make up 99.8 per cent and in the UK, 99.9 per cent.

Both countries have a difficult hiring process. Employees are demanding more flexibility, while employers are scrambling for candidates.

Unemployment is also sitting historically low for both countries, at 3.4% and 3.84% for Australia and UK respectively. This is a 48-year-low for Australia and far below pre-pandemic levels in both countries. It means the power is heavily in favour of employees and candidates.

Additionally, both countries also continue to grapple with underemployment, with at least 6.0% of Australia’s and UK’s workforce are currently underemployed. This indicates some dissatisfaction with work. It could be due to working too few hours, or being assigned a job that is below the employee’s qualifications and experience.

Lessons are found in differences

There are some differences that stand out between the two markets. The UK is further ahead in its recovery from the pandemic than Australia, because it opened its borders earlier to migrant workers.

The issue has been addressed but, due to the massive visa backlog that exists, it will be some time before migration levels return to what they were pre-pandemic. The UK is far ahead of Australia in identifying the creative employee benefits an employee needs to create employee value propositions.

Wagestream’s work is exemplified by the use of financial wellness tools provided by employers to UK HR departments and hiring managers in order to retain and attract staff.

There’s no denying that the cost of living crisis is affecting the world. Employers who can address the financial stress caused by this crisis will be able to gain an advantage over their competitors.

In Australia, however, employer-provided financial well-being programs are still relatively new. Comparatively, in the UK there are dozens of mature and large financial well-being organizations that help hundreds of thousands employees better manage their finances.

This tool could give the UK a competitive edge, now that Australia is also opening its borders. Australia is catching up in order to attract its share migrant workers as part of our ” war for talent”.

The financial wellbeing of employees must be a priority

We can’t do much about the fact the UK was out of lockdown earlier than Australia. All we can do is continue with our immigration plans.

In this extremely tight labour market, Australian employers should immediately follow the UK’s lead and focus on the financial wellbeing of their employees.

Wagestream’s analysis of more than 10,000 jobs found that roles that offered ‘earned wages access’ as a benefit to employees were filled 27% faster than those who didn’t. A survey of 1,250 newly hired employees found that 33 per cent said knowing Wagestream existed was the main reason they chose to accept the position.

This is a powerful tool for attracting employees!

In the current economic climate, it’s time to acknowledge that employee financial well-being helps not only attract talent, but also increases employee satisfaction.

Our labour market would be foolish to ignore this fact.